MPs want periodic poll date stated in law itself

Published On: January 10, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 10: Lawmakers have demanded that the date of periodic local elections should be categorically mentioned in the Local Level Election Bill itself. 

Stating that local polls have not been held for 18 years due to lack of political will, lawmakers from major political parties have lobbied for fixing the election date in the local poll law itself so that parties cannot avoid holding such elections. 

Taking part in preliminary deliberations on the Local Level Election Bill 2016 in Parliament on Monday, lawmakers from the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) asked the government to announce a date for local polls without further delay. 

NC lawmakers Hari Prasad Nepal, Kamal Pangeni, Ram Chandra Pokhrel, UML lawmakers Prakash Jwala, Sher Bahadur Tamang, Guru Burlakoti and Maoist Center lawmakers Tek Bahadur Basnet and Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, among others, admitted to the unwillingness of political parties for a  long time to conduct local polls, due to lack of self-confidence. 

“Local bodies shouldn't remain vacant for any period of time as these are themselves government at the local level. We should have a provision in the election bill itself that ensures the continuity of local bodies,” said Hari Prasad Nepal of NC. Seconding the idea, another NC lawmaker Kamal Pangeni suggested holding local polls at the earliest through fast-tracking of the election-related bills. 

UML lawmakers were even more clear in demanding mention of the date for periodic local polls in the election bill itself. “Keeping in mind the bitter experience of the country we should fix the date  in the bill itself for holding mandatory local polls at intervals of every five years,” said Prakash Jwala of UML. Sher Bahadur Tamang of the same party suggested conducting local polls six months before the expiry of term of the elected body. The opposition lawmakers also welcomed the government's move to forward the election-related bills.

Maoist lawmaker Tek Bahadur Basnet praised the government for bringing the local poll bill in Parliament at a time when the public was becoming doubtful about the commitment of political parties to holdmg elections. 

UML lawmakers demanded that the government immediately implement the report of the Local LevelRestructuring Commission. However, another opposition party lawmaker, Dilliraj Kafle of Nepal Workers Peasants Party,  demanded a review of the report to make it public friendly.

Responding to lawmakers' concerns, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said holding three sets of elections -local, provincial and parliamentary - is high priority for the government. “The government has taken holding three sets of election within the time stipulated by the Constitution as its major task. We expect wider support from all political parties for accomplishing this task,” he said. Nidhi also welcomed the decision of the opposition parties to lift their obstruction in Parliament, paving the way for discussions on the election-related bills. Nidhi informed the House that the government has been reviewing the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission to make sure it has followed the government's guidelines while finalizing the local units under the new setup.

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